The Remembrance Day Contest Results are out for 2018 and we are pleased to announce that VK5ARG scored first place this year in the Multi-One category with 875 points. Thank you team for all your efforts in the freezing conditions and we look forward to running it again in 2019! A special thanks also to Paul VK5PH who let us use his hills QTH for the event.
Have you ever tried to put up a mast but struggled to tie things up so they stay in the air? Have you tried to sling antennas from trees but had them fall down faster than you could get them up? Have you struggled with rope craft in general but never had anyone to show you the right way?
As amateur radio operators, this is an important skill that will allow you to safely tie off ropes and guys so that your antennas and masts stay erect! So, why not come along to the next AREG meeting on Friday 21 September and learn from our resident rope expert how to do it right the first time.
After the presentation, there will be a break for a light supper of tea, coffee and cake where you can mingle and rag chew on the current events. This break will then be followed by an AREG club business meeting.
So remember folks, this coming Friday, the 21 September for the next AREG general meeting, everyone is invited.
Meeting time & Place: Friday, the 21 September at the Fulham Community Centre, off Phelps Court Fulham. The doors opening at 7:45 pm with the presentation starting at 8:00 pm.
Today AREG ran a foundation and license upgrade exam service at the club rooms. We are pleased to announce that we have 4 new amateur radio operators now joining the ranks!
The club would not have been able to offer these exams without the support of our examiners, so a big thank you is due to Ivan VK5HS, Chris VK5CP and Paul VK5PH for taking the time to come and facilitate for us.
The club would also like to thank those AREG members that popped into visit and offer support and take the time to assist our participants in feeling welcome, relaxed and even participate in the practicals. It was great to see everyone chipping in… To Gary VK5FGRY, Darin VK5IX and Chris VK5SA again a big thank you. A special thanks also to Leslie Levingston who took the time to bake a serious number of cupcakes as “brain food” for all to enjoy.
Once again a big congratulations to everyone that passed their examinations today and we look forward to seeing you get started on air. Your amateur radio journey is now beginning so please consider dropping in to the AREG at future meetings – you will find many people willing to help you along your way!
Dateline: August 18th 2018 – The VK5RWN D-STAR gateway computer and therefore the D-STAR repeater networking is off line due to a failure of the current computer’s SSHD storage.
Both the 2m and 70cm D-STAR DV repeaters are still on and available for use providing local coverage as D-STAR DV repeaters, however there will not be any access via the VK5RWN gateway to the D-STAR global network until further notice. It will only support local operation for the next few weeks.
The current gateway was very shortly due for an upgrade anyway, so the existing failed unit will not be repaired. The new VK5RWN D-STAR gateway computer will be installed on site, pending some minor works, ie, a new shelf, and the final installation and configuration of the new G3 gateway software. This software has to be installed and configured on site as it needs to see both the D-STAR repeater controller and the respective Ethernet ports during the final configuration.
So sorry folks, the D-STAR gateway system will be down until the new computer has been installed, over the next couple of weeks, pending time available.
If you wish to work outside of the Adelaide area on D-STAR, you will need access to a DV Hot Spot, a SharkRF OpenSpot or JumboSpot, DVAP, Dongle etc.
Please pass this information on to any others who you may hear trying to use the VK5RWN D-STAR system
The Remembrance Day Contest 2018 has come and gone. This year AREG put it’s club station on the air from a new location thanks to Paul VK5PH and his new hills retreat. Just 20 minutes into the Adelaide Hills, this new location was absolutely RF quiet and had an excellent HF takeoff angle in almost every direction. At 548m ASL, it was only 150m below Mt Lofty (the highest peak in the southern Mt Lofty Ranges).
The operation was led by Grant VK5GR who supplied the station, with assistance from Andrew VK5AKH who supplied the main generator and AC power grid. Quite a few AREG club members came up to the site and helped construct the station, as well as Paul, Gerard VK5ZQV and Paris VK5FPAR from AHARS.
The core operating team consisted of Theo VK5MTM, Andrew VK5AKH, Grant VK5GR, Mark VK5QI, Chris VK5FR, Matt VK5ZM and Paul VK5PH. Construction assistance was provided by Kym VK5FJ, Dennis VK5FDEN and Irene with catering provided by Sharon VK5FSAW. It was great to see so many members braving the freezing conditions to make their way up the mountain to support the event. Special thanks to Andrew and Mark who also took on towing the rented port-a-loo up to the site.
Preparations began the week before when the first antenna was erected and tested. Paul, Gerard, Mark and Grant erected the 80/40m crossed inverted V antenna and tuned it in horrific wind conditions the previous Saturday (with winds gusting at 50-70km/h). That feat achieved meant that the following weekend things would go more smoothly (or so we thought).
The Friday night before the event saw Chris VK5FR and Grant VK5GR pack the station trailer ready for a 6.30am departure the next day. A huge thanks to Chris for his help.
On Saturday VK5GR, VK5FSAW and their daughter headed out along with VK5QI, VK5FR, VK5MTM, VK5ZQV and VK5PH and arrived on site around 7.30am. The first order of business was to erect the pre-tuned 40/80 dipoles into the air and then build the station. The weather hadn’t improved much over the previous week with conditions still somewhat blustery with rain and biting cold thrown in for good measure.
Once 40 and 80m was complete, the team turned their attention to the 160m antenna. This antenna was the same one VK5GR took to Vanuatu earlier in the year (that at the time he was able to put up single handed). This time, with the wind, rain, slush, mud and cold it was a very different prospect with numerous false starts and growing frustration as we raced against the clock and the weather. After about 90 minutes the first attempt was shelved as the weather closed in. The crew retreated inside the main shed to complete the setup of the station and get ready at least for 40/80 at the start of the contest. The team planned on returning to the 160m antenna project in the afternoon once the contest was running.
By a fortuitous mis-calculation, the team thought it started at 11.30am local and had completed preparations by 11.00am. This was fortunate as then the heavens opened. Down came the hail and sleet, up came the wind and boom went the thunder as antennas were hastily unplugged. It was as though someone didn’t like the teams presence on the hill. The temperature dropped even lower reaching 2 degrees Celsius at midday and the wind chill climbed. The thunder passed by 11.20am so cautiously the antennas were reconnected, only to be met with S7-9 hail static. Finally the worst of the weather passed and things settled down for the expected start at 11.30am. The clock clicked over and VK5ARG started calling CQ – only to see no one else on the band. A hastily recheck of the rules and the mistake was realized. Phew – three was another hour available to further preparations around the site.
The final bugs were worked out of the software system and some tidy up completed before finally opening on time at 0300z (12:30pm).
By 0500z (2.30pm) the weather cleared enough that a second attempt at 160m was made. It has to be said that if it wasn’t for the calm arrival of Kim VK5FJ, VK5ARG may not have been heard on top band this contest! Finally, however, the inverted L was rasied into the air and tuned successfully. VK5GR was very happy to see it tune up with a 1.4:1 VSWR around 1840kHz with about 40kHz of bandwidth. It later was proved to work extremely well despite the horrible QRN (storm static) that was to descend across the low bands later that night (due to a large thunderstorm in the Tasman sea).
Back a the operating table, the station itself consisted of an Electaft K3S Transceiver, with a KPA500 Linear and a KAT500 tuner (needed for the CW section of 80m). The logging and CW keying was provided using N1MM software with a Microham Keyer II. All up a very capable station (with one niggle with a SW fault with the voice keyer on the K3S which is being investigated further).
As night fell, Paul VK5PH fired up the BBQ and all the operators were treated to a great meal thanks to the catering planning and shopping of Sharon VK5FSAW. Operators kept rotating to keep everyone fresh and the contacts rolled into the logs. Since the plan was to run for the full 24hrs, Paul VK5PH took the first shift in the graveyard zone (2200pm-0300am). Grant and Andrew then took over for 0300-0700 just as the temperature fell even further…
Overall, the bulk of the contacts were made on 160 and 80m at night and 40m during the day, with a small number of VK6 and VK4 stations on 20m. Nothing was seen on 15 or 10m despite repeated spot checks and the odd CQ call. None the less, the tally continued to rise, with a final score of over 530 contacts and 880 points. Most importantly, everyone who came had a lot of fun, despite the cold temperatures and the weather.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone from AREG and AHARS who participated and in particular a huge thank you to all of the amateurs across Australia and New Zealand who took part! VK5ARG looks forward to running in the RD Contest yet again in 2019!
(Photos thanks to Mark VK5QI)
The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group is arranging for a round of Amateur Radio license examinations to be held at the Fulham Community Centre, Phelps Court, Fulham on Saturday 8th September starting at 9.00am.
For those members (and non members) wishing to upgrade their current Standard or Advanced license, or you wish to sit one of these licenses directly (no need to have passed a lower grade – you can directly sit for any license level in Australia) we need to know by COB Thursday 16th (this week!) so we can arrange for exam papers to be ordered and have them arrive on time.
Foundation License training and exams will also be held. Registrations also need to be completed before Thursday 16th August. Those wishing to sit the foundation license should obtain a copy of the foundation license manual beforehand if they haven’t already done so, and start studying. Come along to the AREG club meeting this Friday (7.45pm) to discuss how to prepare for the exam with the organizers.
Places are limited (unfortunately) for the Foundation license due to the nature of the training so get in quick. If the course fills up, AREG will plan another exam day later in the year.
Costs to sit the exam will be advised later this week (pending the committee meeting). We look forward to seeing new faces join this amazing hobby.
You can email us to register your interest to vk5arg (at) areg.org.au
This month AREG is pleased to present a talk by David Neudegg, Space Weather Physicist with the Bureau of Meteorology, on how Amateur Radio operators can use the resources on the BOM Space Weather website to understand HF propagation.
There will be plenty of opportunities for questions so come along! Everyone, visitors especially, is always welcome.
The club meets at 7.45pm Friday August 17th at the Fulham Community Centre, Phelps Court, Fulham. Help finding us can be obtained on the Adelaide VK5RSB 70cm repeater on 439.900 (-5MHz + 91.5 CTCSS tone).
With all the successful flights that Project Horus has had recently, I guess it’s about time we had one that didn’t quite go to plan…
First up – the weather. If this was a full-size Project Horus launch, we would have likely cancelled and re-scheduled the flight. However, since this was just a small test flight with a disposable payload, we decided to have a go.
Thankfully we didn’t experience the forecast showers, however 30-40kph winds at the launch site made filling an exciting experience, with the balloon blown all over the place. Mark VK5QI, Will VK5AHV, Chris VK5FR and Matt VK5HZ were the launch crew for the morning. Graham VK5GH also made an appearance. Just as we were starting to tie off the balloon a wind gust came up and tore the balloon off the fillter… goodbye balloon! (Memories of Horus 8, though this time without the garage to stop the balloon flying away).
There was just enough gas left in the cylinder to fill a small ‘backup’ balloon (a 100g Hwoyee) and get enough lift to get the payload in the air.
— Mark Jessop (@darksidelemm) July 29, 2018
The achieved ascent rate after launch was ~3m/s, a bit lower than the planned 5m/s, however with the switch to a smaller balloon, this actually resulted in a fairly similar flight path to what was originally planned.
The first part of the flight went pretty normally. Many receiving stations came online to decode the new 4FSK Horus Binary mode, including a few new callsigns. Will VK5AHV and Mark VK5QI headed off towards Bear Rock to track the payload as long as possible, while Marcus VK5WTF was already stationed up on Accomodation Hill to do the same. Ivan VK5HS and Peter VK5PE were already out in the expected landing area (South of Loxton), recovering the morning’s Bureau of Meteorology radiosonde launch.
At just about 9km altitude… something went wrong in the payload. The signal became very wide, and then immediately started drifting up the band. The current theory is that the payload flew through a cloud on ascent, and a combination of condensation within the payload and extreme cold caused some problem with the radio IC. UPDATE: Testing has confirmed that the issue was related to insufficient insulation around the radio IC. Better sealing around the payload edges solves the issue, and hopefully this won’t occur on future flights.
The transmitted signal continued to drift up through the 70cm band, topping out at about 436.4 MHz before descending back down again. At some point (estimated to be about 21km altitude) the balloon burst, sending the payload quickly back towards the ground.
As we watched the signal drifting back down the band, we wondered – what will happen when it gets back to the original frequency – 434.640 MHz? Sure enough, as the frequency drifted closer towards 434.640 MHz, the drift rate sped up, and it almost ‘snapped’ back into place – and the 4FSK started up again! (Later analysis of the telemetry showed that the GPS & micro-controller continued operating while the radio went walkabout.)
Quickly we rushed to get the decoder up and running again, to find the payload was at ~1km altitude and dropping fast. From Bear Rock we were able to decode the payload down to ~300m (at a distance of 140km, not bad!). Peter VK5PE’s home station in Renmark was able to track it down a bit further, to ~220m.
Ivan and Pete turned around (they were halfway back to Renmark) and were able to recover the payload not far from the last reported position.
Even with the issues this flight, we still met the primary goal of getting stations decoding the new Horus Binary telemetry mode. Stations seen to upload telemetry included:
VK5APR, VK5EI, VK5FJGM, VK5FLJG, VK5KJP, VK5KX, VK5NEX, VK5PE, VK5QI, VK5ST, VK5TRM, VK5WTF, and ‘AUSMEZ’
Thanks to all for your participation! We will be evaluating the received data and working out better ways of weatherproofing the modified RS41 payloads to avoid the issues encountered on this flight. Expect to see the Horus Binary telemetry on future flights!